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News Release

Additional Funding Available for National Water Quality Initiative Conservation in Pennsylvania

Molly McDonough

Agricultural Producers located in priority watersheds in Berks, Mifflin, and Lehigh Counties may be able to participate

HARRISBURG, PA, April 30, 2013 —As part of its commitment to improving impaired watersheds, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced additional funding for the second year of its National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).

Up to $1,100,000 in financial assistance will be made available to Pennsylvania farmers and forest landowners in three selected watersheds to implement conservation practices intended to improve water quality.

“These are voluntary efforts focused in small watersheds where the implementation of conservation systems can yield results for locally important waters,” said NRCS Acting Chief Jason Weller. “When farmers work to improve water quality, they also help provide the nation with clean waterways, safe drinking water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife.”

The selected watersheds include the Upper Kishacoquillas Creek in Mifflin County, the Upper Maiden Creek in Berks and Lehigh counties, and Sacony Creek in Berks County (see map below). With help from state agencies, partners, and the NRCS State Technical Committee, these watersheds were identified as priority areas in 2012 because on-farm conservation investments will deliver the greatest water quality improvement benefits.

During the first year of the initiative in 2012, NRCS provided $845,720 in financial assistance to Pennsylvania farmers in these watersheds, ranging in size from 30,994 acres in Upper Kishacoquillas Creek in Mifflin County to 35,227 acres in Upper Maiden Creek in Berks and Lehigh Counties.

NWQI builds on efforts that NRCS already has underway in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay. Using funds from its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), NRCS provides funding and advice to producers to install conservation practices such as agricultural waste storage facilities, improved grazing systems, cover crops, grass waterways,  and streambank stabilization that can improve water quality.

Through this water quality initiative, NRCS is also piloting its new Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff. The tool will help landowners determine how alternative conservation systems they are considering will impact water quality improvement. Additionally, state water quality agencies and other partners will do in-stream and watershed-level monitoring to track water quality improvements in many of the project watersheds.

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. Remember to check with your local NRCS office to see if you are located in a selected watershed.

Contact Information
County Service Center Phone
Berks  Leesport 610-372-4655, x3
Northampton Lehigh/Bethlehem 610-625-8392, x3
Mifflin Burnham 717-248-9541, x3


All applications for funding consideration during this fiscal year for these special watershed projects must be received by May 17 2013. By mid-summer, NRCS will notify all applicants of the results and begin developing contracts with selected applicants.

For more information about NWQI and other conservation programs, click here.